Located on the northern part of the island of Pag, Novalja is a relatively famous resort town in Croatia as it’s right by Zrce Beach – home to many of Croatia’s best clubs and, in turn, home to some of the country’s most famous festivals! It’s very likely that you’ll find yourself in Novalja if you’re attending one of these summer festivals, and no doubt you’ll find most of your time occupied in the local clubs. But what else is there to see and do in Novalja – and should you visit even if you’re not heading to a festival? That’s what this page is for!

Novalja has a population of just over 3,000 people, so it’s a reasonably substantial island town.

So, should you visit Novalja even if I’m not going to a festival? The answer is – yes! Zrce Beach is around a 10 minute drive away from the town so there is enough of a distance between you and the clubs if you aren’t interested in that kind of nightlife. And there’s plenty more to see and do, with a number of lovely beaches and fun activities to get involved in.

History of Novalja

Novalja and Pag were under the control of the Romans from the 1st century BC when a settlement called Cissa emerged in the area. The name of the town stems from the Latin word navalia which refers to a place where ships were brought out of the water for repair.

The town and island in general came under the control of the Croats in the 7th century, and was then fought over by the churches of Rab and Zadar before becoming part of the Venetian Empire from 1409.

Getting to Novalja

Novalja and the island of Pag are very easy to reach. A bridge at its southern point connects the island to the mainland, so you can easily hop over to Pag whether you’ve got a car or are using a bus. There is also a direct catamaran service to Novalja from Rijeka.

By Bus

The nearest airport to Novalja is Zadar Airport. From here, take an airport transfer bus to the main bus station in Zadar. There are then several buses a day to Novalja, all run by Antonio Tours, with a journey time of around 1 hour 30 minutes. These buses make a stop in Pag Town on the way, so they can also be used to travel between Novalja and Pag Town.

There are some summer bus services from elsewhere in Croatia to Novalja. For example, Antonio Tours also have a 4-hour bus from Zagreb direct to Novalja.

If you’re struggling to reach Novalja, we would recommend that you first travel to Zadar and then take another bus from there.

By Car & Ferry

If you have your own car and are travelling from somewhere in northern Croatia, you can make use of small car ferry that operates from Prizna on the mainland to Zigljen on Pag. The ferry – run by Jadrolinija – takes just 15 minutes to cross this bit of the Adriatic. It’s then just a 10-minute drive to Novalja.

By Catamaran

Jadrolinija operate a year-round daily catamaran service from Rijeka, via Rab, to Novalja. Journey time from Rijeka is 2 hours 40 minutes, or 45 minutes from Rab Town.

What to See and Do in Novalja


In the centre of town is the 17th-century Church of Our Lady of the Rosary that was built on the site of an earlier Christian church. Inside are parts of a Christian basilica from the 4th century.

The City Museum Novalja is home to a number of fascinating items including some from Roman times. But of most interest is the subterranean Roman aqueduct – called Talijanova buza – that you can enter and walk along. At 1,050 metres long and averaging at just 0.6 metres wide, this aqueduct – used for transporting water, of course – is thought to have been built in the 1st century AD and used over the next few centuries. (It is unknown when it exactly came to stop being used.) It is amazing to see such well built and preserved Roman engineering.

Novalja Beach Planjka
Planjka Beach


Novalja is lucky to be home to a number of fine beaches that are suitable for all ages – including very young ones, thanks to shallow waters and gentle inclines into the Adriatic Sea.

Closest to the centre of town is Lokunje Beach which is a pebble beach edge by some trees. This is certainly the place to head to if you want to cool down when in Novalja town.

Babe Beach is north of the main part of town, with a partly sandy area. It is shallow and relatively warm, and a number of cafes and bars are next to it – so it’s a popular place.

Planjka Beach is a partly sandy beach that’s northeast of Novalja and considered one of the most beautiful beaches around. With water sports hire, beach facilities and cafes and bars, it’s another popular beach that’s very suitable for families.

Even if you’re not heading to a festival, consider going to the famous Zrce Beach. A wide beach with excellent facilities (changing areas, cafes, restaurants, sports and recreation) it’s certainly the place to be in the summer months.

For something quieter and more secluded, go to Jadra Beach at the very top of Pag Island, north of Stara Novalja. A small rocky beach, the views are simply gorgeous here. There are no changing facilities, but there is a cafe serving typically Croatian fast food.


The whole of Pag and this part of the island are great for active, adventurous types. The flat (and unusual) landscape lends itself very well to hiking and cycling. Pop down to the local tourist office to pick up some maps to see which trails to enjoy. To really get your adrenaline following, you could also sign up for a 2-hour quadbike safari.

Diving is also very rewarding off the coast of the island of Pag with a number of shipwrecks and underwater caves to visit. Contact a local diving centre – such as Amfora or Blue Bay DC – to set yourself up with diving equipment or join one of their courses to learn.

Events in Novalja

Take a look at our Festivals in Croatia page to see which festivals are taking place in nearby Zrce Beach.

The Pag Outdoor Summer stretches from late April through to the end of September, with active events such as hiking, bike tours and stand up paddleboarding taking place all over the island regularly during these months. Check locally to see the activities that take place/start in Novalja.

There’s a Summer Culture Festival each year – as with many other places on Croatia’s coastline – that normally starts on 13th June, St Anton’s Day (referred to as Antonija) which is also considered Novalja Day.

Eating and Drinking in Novalja

Restaurant Boskinac in the hotel of the same name is where you should go for a special meal in town. A Michelin-starred restaurant, it serves the best of what Pag has to offer – fish, lamb, cheese, prosciutto, olive oil, herbs and honey, for example – in a modern and inventive way. They can offer some excellent wines too.

Restaurant Joel is also located in a hotel, and again offers typical Mediterranean fare using local ingredients. Enjoy excellent dishes on the lovely outdoor terrace with a view.

A holiday is not a holiday without some pizza involved, and Momento Grill Pizza House is the best place for this kind of pie!

Gardenia Restaurant is a very welcoming restaurant with a lovely outdoor terrace that’s just the place to try their Pag specialities, fish and seafood dishes, one of their steaks or a pizza. They also offer a small kids’ menu.

Starac i More (“The Old Man and The Sea“) is a family-run place with a cosy interior that serves up plenty of typically Dalmatian dishes. They have an extensive wine list too.

Cocomo is definitely the place to go for a late-night fun night out, with drinks, cocktails and DJs.

Accommodation in Novalja

There’s a good selection of hotels in town, including a number of smart four-star options with excellent facilities. One of the favourites is the Boutique Hotel Boskinac which has beautifully presented rooms, an outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar and a pretty terrace. The hotel is located a little outside of the town but set next to a pine forest and in a wonderfully restored stone building.

Closer to the centre is Hotel In Excelsis which has both an indoor and outdoor pool, a restaurant and bar, a spa and is close to a beach. Bed&Breakfast Novalis couldn’t be better located right in the heart of Novalja, with some rooms benefitting from a balcony with sea views, and is also close to a beach.

Hotel Olea is another option with tastefully designed rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and wellness centre, plus a restaurant and bar. The hotel is also close to a beach.

Take a look at what hotels and rentals are available using the search box/map below:

If hostels are more your kind of thing, there’s two great options here. Hostel & Rooms Vagabundo offers twin rooms for its guests and has an outdoor pool, whilst Hostel Casa La Cha offers twin rooms plus beds in mixed dormitories.

Campsites are also plentiful in and around Novalja. Campsite Strasko is one of the largest campsites in the whole of Dalmatia, with capacity fot just over 6,000 guests. It offers camp pitches and mobile homes and has a large beach and pool complex, sports facilities and a kids club. Terra Park Phalari is a much smaller affair (able to accept around 900 guests) and is home to space for tent pitches, holiday villas and mobile homes – some with private pools. Located on a beach (and with its own dog beach!) it also has sports facilities, a playground and mini club for kids, a restaurant and bar and a shop.

Terra Park Phalaris (Credit: Terra Park)

More info

There is plenty of useful information about the town and the surrounding area on the Novalja Tourist Board website.